A dose of technology revives one healthcare insurance firm
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When the insurance division of British United Provident Association (BUPA), a global healthcare organization, decided last year to launch Heartbeat, the U.K.'s first private healthcare insurance package aimed at individuals, it didn't have to look far to find the right technology to support the initiative.
The company turned to Point Information Systems, which had provided BUPA with a CRM solution in 2000. Point also deployed a Web-based sales support system for brokers and a field force of self-employed healthcare advisors last year.
For its Heartbeat initiative the company was looking for a software system capable of handling complex tasks and generating personal quotes for specific individual conditions. It would also need to keep costs down while delivering key information and providing a high level of customer satisfaction. BUPA executives selected Point's e-Point product, because it met those requirements and because of BUPA's existing relationship with Point.
"The solution is a thin client, Web-based solution. A key feature is its
flexibility, allowing it to respond to particular customer needs and fit with existing systems and processes," says Corinne steer, director of global marketing at Point.
The solution helps BUPA's sales agents by allowing them to offer an enhanced customer experience, identify cross-sell and upsell opportunities along with helping them to better manage information and providing efficient customer contact, steer says. For BUPA executives, this was the next logical step in the firm's shift it towards a CRM-centric business approach.
BUPA, which has about four million members in 190 countries, is best known for its U.K. insurance operations that provides private medical insurance and is supported by 36 hospitals, 34 health-screening centers, 233 care homes, 54 retirement homes, and 40,000 staff members.
Despite this reach and scale, BUPA was bleeding red ink fast. In 1995 BUPA's core insurance operation lost $28.6 million amid market perception that it was expensive and provided poor service. Market realities were that it was losing business and that margins were tight.
In 1996 the company began taking steps to overhaul how it did business by starting initiatives that included developing best practices for its telesales, corporate, and independent brokers. By 1998 it invested in an IT project to replace the multiple legacy systems in its telesales operations with a single integrated system. Point was chosen as its CRM vendor. Then in 2000 BUPA opened its Customer Relationship Center. As a result the firm posted a profit of $20.9 million for the year. So in 2001 BUPA implemented Point's Web-based sales support solution for brokers and a self-employed field force of advisors.
BUPA executives say its e-Point CRM solution used for the Heartbeat initiative cut training from about five weeks to one week, allows for easier cross-selling of products, and has reduced call duration and errors while raising productivity.
Currently, e-Point is the front end to a variety of BUPA's back-end legacy systems, steer says. "Previously, BUPA's employees had to retype the same data many times, but now there is one front end that talks to the many back-end fulfillment systems," she says.
Basically, e-Point captures the personal and medical information to generate a quote for medical insurance by interfacing with a medical engine and a quotation engine. E-point, which has an n-tier thin client architecture, has four levels in the BUPA Heartbeat solution. The client is a browser with no application logic; the Web server is a standard ISS server on an NT box; the application server sits on an NT operating system and the database server is Oracle on a Unix platform.
With e-Point, the idea was not to just throw technology at the Heartbeat initiative, but to customize it in a way that would allow BUPA to have a flexible system. "BUPA Heartbeat's proposition means that in just one phone call we have to really learn about and understand each customer at a very individual level," says Iain Roy, BUPA's IS senior project manager.
"This has given us a real edge on the competition. While they're relying on simple age and address factors to work out quotes, we've been able to make things a lot more sophisticated and personalized," Roy says.
But the company is not standing still. It is looking to move its CRM system with e-Point at the center to a Web-based interaction system for customers and extending the system to face-to-face selling and third-party sales by brokers.
n-tier thin client architecture
Application Server and Web Server are Pentium PC based
Open API allow for 3rd parties to integrate with the e-Point Application Server
By the Numbers
Since the launch of the CRM initiative, e-Point:
Handled 8,323,180 contacts
Generated 2,688,732 literature shipments
Issued 1,252,037 leads
Registered 632 complaints